To bee or not to bee: eco-conscious Shakespeare with Rowan Tree Print

To bee or not to bee: eco-conscious Shakespeare with Rowan Tree Print

Printmaker Rowanne Anderson shares the creative process behind her natural designs for the Globe Shop 

This Earth Day, we’re highlighting one of the artists behind a much-loved eco-product range in our Globe Shop: Rowanne Anderson of Rowan Tree Print

I enjoy celebrating the wit and wisdom of Shakespeare’s words, using them to make people smile. My artwork is often also influenced by nature and incorporates animals and plant designs. I try to be as kind to the environment as I can, so all of the greeting cards and envelopes are made from recycled card and everything is packaged in biodegradable or recyclable materials.

 
A square kraft paper greeting card with the text: Your bum is the greatest thing about you
 

Rowan Tree Print’s greeting card with a cheeky quote from Measure for Measure.

 

I was part of the Globe family for 11 years, working as a Retail Assistant. Having worked in this magical place for so long, I fell in love with the building, the amazing people that work there and the language of Shakespeare. I admit that some of the quotes I use take the Bard’s words a little out of context, but I think this highlights the ever-changing nature of the English language. When Shakespeare wrote in Measure for Measure ‘your bum is the greatest thing about you’, it may not have had the same meaning as it does to our modern eyes. I think that is part of the reason people find it funny and want to send it as a greeting card!

 

I create my designs by carving into a block of linoleum, with a sharp V or U-shaped chisel or gouge. This is a relief print technique, similar to woodcut, meaning that the raised (uncarved) areas are the printing surface.

 
A drawing of the Globe Theatre on a block of lino, the illustration reversed.
 

Drawing the initial design out onto lino.

 
Carving tools lay next to a block with a print of a beer tankard and the text: I will make it felony to drink small beer, in reverse
 

Carving the design ready for inking.

 

I carve away the parts I want to remain white. This process can be particularly tricky with text, as you have to write it in reverse.

 

The lino sheet is then inked with a roller (called a brayer) and impressed onto paper or fabric. This can be done with a printing press or by hand, pressing the back of the paper with a spoon, or a baren.

 
An ink print and block of a little mouse in a field with the text: Though she be but little she is fierce
 

Ink is then rolled onto the lino sheet, ready to print.

 

I enjoy this lo-fi process and the physicality of drawing, carving and printing the design by hand. I also think that this gives a quality of line that is not present in an image produced digitally. I like that you can see the hand of the artist.

 

I adapt my original artwork to be incorporated into products such as mugs, bags and cards. This is the point where the print is scanned into a computer and made into a digital image. During this process, a lot of thought has to be put into the way products are used, and how images can be printed onto objects. I also research suppliers, opting for smaller companies who are based in the UK, are eco-conscious and don’t use animal products. From working in the Globe Shop for many years I have valuable insight into what products our visitors want as their souvenirs and what designs/quotes resonate with them. I love to keep developing new products and designs, then seeing people from all over the world enjoying my artwork.

 

FINIS.


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